Summer Steele died in a Massachusetts hospital on Saturday after being dragged and run over by her school bus the previous afternoon, reports The Daily Hampshire Gazette.
The 9-year-old student at Sanderson Academy in Ashfield, located in the northwest part of the state, was in the process of stepping off the school bus in neighboring Plainfield, when the bus driver, employed by contractor F.M. Kuzmeskus, began to pull away from the stop, according to state police.
The bus driver has not yet been identified. The contractor released a statement that it is “greatly saddened by this tragedy,” and pledged to cooperate with state and local authorities.
Grief counselors were assisting students and faculty at Sanderson Academy on Monday.
School bus dragging incidents have become a training focus in the student transportation industry over the past two years following several high-profile incidents nationwide. Two student transporters in New York state, which has seen a rash of incidents, published a paper last year that addresses the issue and proper procedures school bus drivers should ensure in making sure students are safely away from the vehicle before operation resumes.
Michael Buoniconti, superintendent of the Mohawk Trail Regional School District, said he is encouraging superintendents across Massachusetts to stress that their school bus drivers do not move their vehicles until they have seen that all children are clear of the bus.
“Further, I am encouraging the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to impart this message to all state departments of education across the U.S.,” he added, in a statement.